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Case Name Lacy v. Dart DR-IL-0005
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-06259 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Case Summary
On August 14, 2014, a detainee who used a wheelchair filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Cook County, Illinois under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ... read more >
On August 14, 2014, a detainee who used a wheelchair filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Cook County, Illinois under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, and against two Cook County correctional officers in their individual capacities under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, claimed deprivation by the County of rights secured under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, and alleged excessive force by the correctional officers.

Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff, now joined by three additional wheelchair-using detainees, filed an amended complaint. A fifth named plaintiff was later added. The plaintiffs, individually and on behalf of a putative class of Cook County inmates, sought preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and damages. The plaintiffs complained that during their monthly trips from the jail to one of the six local courthouses, the County subjected them to numerous ADA and Rehabilitation Act violations, including inadequate van transport and holding cell accommodations, severely limited and unequal access to lavatory facilities, and non-ADA compliant wheelchair ramps.

On September 17, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction, which the Court (Judge Robert W. Gettleman) consolidated with a trial on the merits on December 18, 2014. Over the next five months, the Court conducted extensive evidentiary hearings in which the County introduced status reports detailing their efforts and plans to achieve compliance with the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. Plaintiffs contended that these plans were incomplete, and therefore not sufficient to overcome the need for injunctive relief.

On April 30, 2015, the Court granted the plaintiffs' motion for class certification, defining the class as all Cook County Jail detainees who have been assigned and currently use a wheelchair. 2015 WL 1995576. On May 27, 2015, the Court denied the defendants' motion to sever the excessive force claim by the original plaintiff against the two correctional officers. The plaintiffs then moved for partial summary judgment on July 8 on the issue of "liability on their individual damage claims for violations of the [ADA]." The defendants moved for summary judgment on Sept. 4. The parties filed a stipulated dismissal on September 24 of four of the individual defendants, leaving Sheriff Dart and Cook County as the defendants.

On October 8, 2015, the court granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction, though it treated the injunction as a permanent one in light of procedural developments. 2015 WL 5921810. The court found that the plaintiffs' rights under the ADA had been violated in the past with respect to courthouse ramps and bathrooms, and as such they were entitled to injunctive relief. However, the defendants should be given the opportunity to propose changes that better accorded with the specific circumstances at issue. The court also denied the plaintiffs' request for declaratory judgment, finding that evidence of past ADA violations did not entitle them to declaration of present violations.

On November 19, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment and denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment. 2015 WL 7351752. The court found that the defendants had been "on notice of the need to provide accommodations for wheelchair-using detainees attending court at the six courthouses as early as 1999." The court held that not providing the requisite aid was a "deliberate decision" that constituted the "intentional discrimination" necessary to recover damages for discrimination under the ADA.

The plaintiffs moved for supplemental injunctive relief twice. On January 7, 2016, they requested that the Maywood Courthouse bathrooms be brought in compliance with the ADA. On May 4, they made the same request for the Bridgeview Courthouse.

The parties progressed toward trial. On May 12, 2016, the court severed and dismissed without prejudice the plaintiffs' claims alleging statutory violations other than those pertaining "to transportation, ramps, and bathroom facilities before during and after court appearances at the Cook County Jail."

On May 7, 2017, the court granted supplemental injunctive relief as to the Maywood Courthouse but denied it as to the Bridgeview Courthouse. The court found that the privacy screens in the Maywood bathrooms were inappropriately spaced, that the defendants should adjust the screens to make them compliant, and that it was technically feasible for them to do so. The court further found that the Bridgeview bathrooms had been appropriately set up in all but one aspect, but that full compliance was technically infeasible as to that final aspect. The court held that the defendants had provided reasonable accommodations in light of the technical difficulty, rendering them compliant with the ADA.

The defendants appealed the injunctions on May 31, and the plaintiffs cross-appealed the supplemental injunction on June 9. On September 12, the court stayed further proceedings pending the appeal.

On July 30, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided the defendant’s challenges to four of the District Court’s orders: 1) the grant of partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, 2) the jury verdict and $600 damage award in favor of Mr. Lacy, 3) the certification of the class, and 4) the grant of the permanent injunction regarding Maywood’s privacy screens. 897 F.3d 847 (7th Cir. 2018).

Each party won part of the appeal. For the defendants, the Court of Appeals vacated the district court’s grant of partial summary judgment, finding that the lower court improperly relied on findings of fact from a prior decision, thereby usurping the jury's role of fact finder. Because the court’s decision on partial summary judgment tainted the jury trial, the jury verdict and damage awards were vacated. The court remanded the question for a repeat, proper, jury trial. However, for the plaintiffs, the Court of Appeals affirmed class certification. Similarly, the appellate court found that the District Court had not abused its discretion in granting the permanent injunction regarding Maywood’s privacy screens.

As of October 23, 2018, the remanded proceedings are ongoing in the District Court.

Robert Lake - 06/04/2015
Virginia Weeks - 10/05/2017
Hope Brinn - 10/23/2018

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Mobility impairment
Accommodation / Leave
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Reasonable Accommodations
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Cook County, Illinois
Plaintiff Description Five wheelchair using detainees at the Cook Country Jail in Illinois, individually and on behalf of class of other wheelchair using inmates.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Filing Year 2014
Case Ongoing Yes
1:14-cv-6259 (N.D. Ill.)
DR-IL-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/01/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
DR-IL-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/14/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 9]
DR-IL-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/26/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amendment to Complaint [ECF# 84]
DR-IL-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/13/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 142] (2105 WL 1995576) (N.D. Ill.)
DR-IL-0005-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/30/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 203] (2015 WL 5921810) (N.D. Ill.)
DR-IL-0005-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/08/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 218] (2015 WL 7351752) (N.D. Ill.)
DR-IL-0005-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/19/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 347] (N.D. Ill.)
DR-IL-0005-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/14/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 368] (N.D. Ill.)
DR-IL-0005-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 00713271520]
DR-IL-0005-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/21/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Gettleman, Robert William (N.D. Ill.)
DR-IL-0005-0004 | DR-IL-0005-0005 | DR-IL-0005-0006 | DR-IL-0005-0007 | DR-IL-0005-0008 | DR-IL-0005-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Flaxman, Kenneth N. (Illinois)
DR-IL-0005-0001 | DR-IL-0005-0002 | DR-IL-0005-0003 | DR-IL-0005-9000
Flaxman, Joel A. (Illinois)
Morrissey, Patrick William (Illinois)
DR-IL-0005-0001 | DR-IL-0005-0002 | DR-IL-0005-9000
Morrissey, Thomas Gerard (Illinois)
DR-IL-0005-0001 | DR-IL-0005-0002 | DR-IL-0005-0003 | DR-IL-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cargie, Thomas E. (Illinois)
Carroll, Jacqueline B. (Illinois)
Casey, Brian M. (Illinois)
Castiglione, Nicolas Paul (Illinois)
Chandler, James J. (Illinois)
Condron, David Richard (Illinois)
Cummings, Nicholas E. (Illinois)
Gallagher, Michael L. (Illinois)
Gorman, Michael (Illinois)
Haidari, Raana Vakilzadeh (Illinois)
Hannon, Maureen O'Donoghue (Illinois)
Larios, Miguel E. (Illinois)
Power, John M. (Illinois)
Sorich, Michael Jude (Illinois)
Zebelian, Adam Miel (Illinois)
Zecchin, Anthony E. (Illinois)

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